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Cleaners protest against decision to cut their hours at Lewisham Hospital

Workers' and their union warn that Covid cases could rise after private contractor ISS cuts 495 hours from its cleaning contract

PATIENTS could be at increased risk of Covid-19 due to cuts to cleaning services at a south London hospital, the GMB union warned today.

Union members held a socially distanced protest outside Lewisham hospital against plans by private contractor ISS to cut 495 hours from its cleaning contract with Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust.

This would be the second hours and jobs cull the company has introduced since it took over the contract in February 2020, GMB said.

The union warned there was “increasing unrest” in the hospital over the risk of cross-infection as cleaners struggle with impossible workloads.

ISS had advised less comprehensive spot-cleaning instead of more thorough practices in some areas of the hospital to help lessen the load, the union warned. 

GMB regional organiser Helen O’Connor said: “From day one, ISS have been failing the staff and patients in Lewisham hospital.

“The patients have been moved over from having fresh food to cook-chill food, while workers are consistently not being paid for hours they have worked.

“GMB members are angry because ISS are constantly making detrimental changes that are cutting the quality of hospital services.

“Many of our members have been seriously unwell with coronavirus themselves and they are very concerned that cuts to cleaning during a pandemic will kill hospital patients who are already unwell and very vulnerable.

“[Our] members will not stand by and allow a private company raking in huge profits to put patients at risk and [we] are asking the local community to stand with them and fight to protect services.”

A Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust spokesperson said: “We have been assured by ISS that there will be no changes to the cleanliness of our sites and all facilities will continue to be cleaned in line with high safety standards with performance monitored on a daily basis to ensure these standards are met.”


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